Congress appeals for consensus on Prez poll

New Delhi: Congress on Friday appealed for a consensus across the political spectrum as party chief Sonia Gandhi declared Pranab Mukherjee as the UPA nominee for President`s post.

"UPA has named senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee as its candidate for President`s post. Of all the names that had come out in public, Pranab Mukherjee was the most able. There was hardly any better candidate than him for this post. All political parties have praised Mukherjee for his abilities from time-to-time. Congress President Sonia Gandhi has appealed to all political parties to support his candidature. We hope that everybody supports a candidate like Mukherjee," AICC general secretary Janardan Dwivedi told reporters here.

As Samajwadi Party took a U-turn extending support to Mukherjee`s candidature, Dwivedi said, "SP has earlier also supported us. We consider them our supporting ally."

Asked whether Congress foresaw a contest in the Presidential election, Dwivedi said, "We always hope for good. We want that everybody should support and a consensus is built since the candidature of such a person has been announced."

To a question on whether the party felt that it would have been better had TMC leader Mamata Banerjee not rejected Mukherjee`s candidature, Dwivedi said, "Definitely it would have been better".

He, at the same time, said that Congress is "hopeful of support from all our allies" since Mukherjee has now been declared as UPA`s candidate.

"All parties have firmly supported Pranab Mukherjee….SP, BSP, PDP and TRS are coming with their support continuously," Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Shukla said after the announcement.

Supporting Mukherjee`s candidature, LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan said that it was a "very good decision" of UPA to name the Finance Minister as Presidential candidate for the alliance.

"The UPA will win hands down with Mukherjee as the candidate even if there is a contest but there is very little likelihood of any contest. I appeal to all parties to ensure that Mukherjee is elected unanimously so that a good message is sent abroad about our political traditions," Paswan said.